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Brokers: Summer Sales Surge Due to Coronavirus
2020-09-11By Miranda Blazeby

The easing of international travel restrictions and an increased interest in yachting have resulted in a surge of summer yacht sales, leading brokerage houses have said.

July and August were both busy months for the brokerage market, with a total of 32 sales closed in August alone. This eclipsed the 19 sales recorded in August last year and means that 2020 had the highest August figure since 2015, which recorded 34 sales.


Hasna, now Lunasea, was sold by Burgess, with the buyer introduced by Y.CO

The figures are “a huge rebound”, according to Fraser chief executive Raphael Sauleau, who added that surge in sales figures has a direct correlation to the end of lockdown and easing of European travel.

“It was easier for people to travel from May to June,” he said, “which means lots of people have been able to travel and see the boats.”

Director of sales at Burgess, Richard Lambert, agreed that the increased sales figures were linked to a “pent up demand from the lockdown period”.

“The European travel restrictions being lifted has allowed people to travel, get on board and complete transactions,” he said. “That’s been key in this sales boost of July and August.”


Awatea was sold by Y.CO, with the buyer introduced by Fraser

However, Cromwell Littlejohn, chief commercial officer at US broker Northrop and Johnson, said the US has not experienced “any big travel restrictions” but did experience the same sales surge.

Highlighting the behaviour of the US housing market, which he said has seen an uptick of 25% in the same period, Littlejohn said the desire to self-isolate in a safe environment is key in contributing to the increased activity.

“It’s the perfect storm that created the perfect situation,” he said. “People are looking to do things closer to home that’s not around lots of other people.”

Sauleau agreed, arguing that those who previously chartered boats are now opting to buy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The people who are choosing to buy boats probably wanted to do so earlier are now choosing to do so for the freedom, to manage their own crew on board and do things themselves rather than charter where maybe the risk is greater to the virus,” he said.


The buyer of the Turquoise new build NB69 was introduced by Fraser

Lambert agreed. “Coronavirus is a driving factor,” he said. “Those who might have chartered are now looking to purchase so that they’re in control of their own destiny. You, your family and your crew are in your own bubble on board in a safe environment away from the crowds.”

The widespread cancellation of the industry’s autumn yacht shows, including Cannes and Monaco, will have little effect on yacht sales, Lambert and Sauleau claimed.

“I don’t see the appetite from clients wanting to attend the yacht shows and I don’t see the appetite from owners wanting people on board,” Lambert said.


Minderella was jointly listed for sale by Y.CO and Merle Wood & Associates

Sauleau agreed: “Buyers are not waiting for the shows. I don’t think the lack of boat shows will necessarily affect anything in the current circumstances – it’s not a problem.”

Lambert added that “exclusive events in a controlled environment” could be “the way forward” and revealed that Burgess has invested in its digital marketing, specifically 360-degree virtual tours, since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The video walkthroughs with the captain is a much more effective process for the client and buyer before making the journey,” he said.


Triple Seven was jointly listed for sale with Burgess and Edmiston & Company with the buyer introduced by Moran Yacht & Ship

Fraser has followed suit and is also offering virtual yacht walkthroughs to clients.

“Of course, it’s always better to go out there and see the boats but now we have the tools to show them,” Sauleau said.

As the market moves into the final quarter of 2020, Lambert said he was “cautiously optimistic”.

Littlejohn agreed, adding that he expects “the momentum to continue through to the end of the year.”

Sauleau added: “We’ve got to see how the next few months play out and then, by the end of the year, we can say that it’s definitely a rebound.”

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